Determinants of Behaviour in Risky Situations
Manfred Borovcnik1, Ramesh Kapadia2
1Statistics, Alps Adria University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria; 2Institute of Education, University of London, London, United Kingdom

A situation of uncertainty involves a set of potential outcomes, which have a probability and an impact (loss or benefit). Personal behaviour varies a lot in everyday situations and reacts very sensitively to the setting of the situation. Even when the impact and probability are identical for a set of events – with the only exception that in one example the impact is a benefit and in the other example it amounts to a loss – the action preferred by people can differ radically, as shown by psychologists. Apart from the constructed artificial model of a situation, for people many more ingredients govern situations under uncertainty: the degree of small or large probabilities, the highest benefit or loss, other people's actions. This links to heuristics, constructed by development psychologists.

In this presentation, several determinants of behaviour in risky situations will be outlined. The consequences for teaching are varied. It does not suffice to teach the underlying mathematics; the teaching must also get students involved and realise the influence of external factors, which may be less crucial than they think.


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Keywords: Perception of risk; Probabilistic thinking; Improving decisions; Probability teaching

Biography: Fields of interest:

• Applied Statistics, Biometry, Ethics in Medicine

• Educational Statistics

• New Technologies in education, e Learning and blended learning

Awards and functions:

Member of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) since 1991

Scientific Award of the German Society “Didactics of Mathematics “ (GDM, 1994)

Vice president of the International Association for Statistical Education (IASE, 1995-97)

Organizer of the “Fifth International Conference on Technology in Mathematics Teaching” (ICTMT 5, 2001)

Invited lecture at CERME 4 (2006)

Panel discussant at IASE Round Table Conference (2008)

Juror at various media awards as Medidaprix and Swiss Virtual Campus


Author or editor of 17 monographies, textbooks and proceedings and author of more than 130 research papers. To name only two as editor (jointly with R. Kapadia):

Chance Encounters (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991)

Special issue on “Research and Developments in Probability Education” International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 4 (3), 2009.